Real unlikely to overburden BaleReuters . Madrid
Barcelona have been careful to break new recruit Neymar in gently during the opening weeks of the La Liga season and Real Madrid are likely to follow a similar policy with Gareth Bale, even with several key players carrying injuries.
Soccer’s richest club by income, who like champions Barca have a perfect nine points from three matches, splashed a record 100 million euros ($133 million) to secure Bale’s services and he could make his debut at promoted Villarreal in Saturday’s late kickoff.
The 24-year-old winger played the final half hour of Wales’s 3-0 World Cup qualification defeat at home to Serbia on Tuesday, his first competitive action since July, and coach Chris Coleman warned it would be unwise for him to play a full match this weekend considering his relative lack of fitness.
Bale told reporters on Thursday he was ‘feeling good’ and hoped to get a run-out at the Madrigal.
‘Obviously I am a bit behind the rest of the squad in terms of physical fitness but I think it’s possible,’ he said at the presentation of Real’s new orange away kit.
‘I have been training for a week with Wales and I have already trained a couple of times here,’ he added.
‘The coach has welcomed me and hopefully I can quickly win a place in the team.’
Bale had his first workout with his new team mates after arriving in the Spanish capital on Wednesday and although Real have a number of players injured, coach Carlo Ancelotti is unlikely to deploy him from the start on Saturday.
Portugal pair Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Coentrao, Spain’s Isco and Marcelo of Brazil all returned from international duty with problems of varying degrees of seriousness.
Ronaldo and Isco were back with Bale and the rest of the squad on Thursday after training apart on Wednesday, while Marcelo had treatment from medical staff along with Coentrao and long-term absentee Xabi Alonso.
Villarreal, along with Atletico Madrid the only other team to win their opening three games, are eager to test themselves against opponents of Real’s calibre after spending a year in the second division.
Under coach Marcelino they have shown real attacking flair and their performances so far this term suggest they are more likely to be challenging for a place in Europe than flirting with relegation come the end of the campaign.
‘It’s a chance to show that we can compete with anyone and that we can fight against a team like Madrid,’ captain Bruno Soriano told a news conference on Wednesday.
‘Last year, we were dreaming about playing these teams and now the opportunity has arrived and we want to put in a great performance,’ the midfielder added.
‘Personally I prefer it if an opponent is at full strength and that the best come so we can take them on.
‘Although even if Madrid has some players out, I am sure they will have the same level of quality.’
Barca had some positive news on the injury front as they prepare for Saturday’s match at home to Sevilla when midfielder Sergio Busquets and fullback Daniel Alves completed a full training session on Thursday.
Neymar and World Player of the Year Lionel Messi were also back after representing Brazil and Argentina respectively.
Barca coach Gerardo Martino has used Neymar sparingly in the early stages of their title defence although he did play 90 minutes of the 3-2 victory at Valencia in their last league outing before the international break.
The 21-year-old shone for his country in friendly victories against Australia and Portugal, scoring a goal in each game including a trademark sprint through the Portuguese defence followed by a clinical finish.
Messi helped Argentina secure qualification for next year’s World Cup in Brazil with two penalties in Tuesday’s 5-2 success in Paraguay.
He missed the 1-0 La Liga win at Malaga last month due to a thigh problem before notching a hat-trick at Valencia to take his tally for the season to five goals in two games including a double at home to Levante in the opening round of matches.
comments powered by Disqus
Disgraced former national captain Mohammad Ashraful may turn his attention to coaching in the aftermath of his confessed involvement in the Bangladesh Premier League match-fixing scandal and subsequent suspension. Pledge Harbor School and Sports... Full story
With the Gorkhalis confirming Nepalâ€™s place as a regional football power after an impressive run to the semi-finals of the just-completed SAFF Championship, the nationâ€™s cricketers hope to reach greater international heights of their own. The Nepalese national cricket team has achieved... Full story
Famed Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram said Thursday he hoped Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar would play his final Test farewell against Pakistan in Kolkata. World record run-getter Tendulkar, 40, is set to achieve the unique record of playing his 200th Test later this year... Full story
Almost a quarter of former sportsmen have battled with health, addiction or financial problems after retiring, according to a British survey published on Thursday. More than 1,200 retired footballers, rugby union and league players, jockeys and cricketers were polled by the... Full story
Thousands of fans â€“ including the president â€“ on Thursday gathered to cheer Afghanistanâ€™s victorious national football team as they returned home after winning the war-wracked countryâ€™s first international soccer trophy. The team stunned six-time champions India 2-0 Wednesday... Full story
Left-arm fast bowler Brian Vitori took his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket on Thursday, as Zimbabwe secured a 64-run first innings lead over Pakistan on the third day of the second Test at Harare Sports Club. Vitori took five for 61 as Pakistan collapsed to 230 all out, losing their last six wickets for 19 runs. Full story
Perthâ€™s WACA ground will be without a Test match when India tour Australia during the 2014-15 season, Cricket Australia has announced. The WACA, a regular Australian Test venue since 1974, missed out when CA allocated its schedule of four Tests against third-ranked India. Full story
Barcelona have been careful to break new recruit Neymar in gently during the opening weeks of the La Liga season and Real Madrid are likely to follow a similar policy with Gareth Bale, even with several key players carrying injuries. Soccerâ€™s richest club by income, who like champions Barca have a perfect nine points from three... Full story
Mexico are wrestling with the humiliating prospect of missing footballâ€™s World Cup finals for the first time in a quarter century with only two qualifiers left to reverse their fortunes. The crisis is so bad that the Mexican football federation is considering whether to name the national teamâ€™s third... Full story
Record Arsenal signing Mesut Ozil said on Thursday that he believes the club can challenge for the English Premier League title this season. Ozil arrived from Real Madrid for a reported fee of Â£42.4 million ($66 million, 50 million euros) on transfer deadline day... Full story
Napoli coach Rafael Benitez has waded into the debate over the price Real Madrid paid for forward Gareth Bale by claiming his own creative midfielder, Marek Hamsik, is worth more. Bale signed for the Spanish giants from Tottenham Hotspur a little over a week ago on a six-year contract for a fee of... Full story
Brazil legend Roberto Carlos has urged Chelsea to be wary that new signing Samuel Etoâ€™o could have a negative impact on the Stamford Bridge dressing room, in an interview with Globoesporte.com. Carlos, 40, played alongside Etoâ€™o at Anzhi Makhachkala prior to his retirement in 2012, before... Full story
Tunisia have been given a World Cup reprieve after FIFA on Thursday punished Cape Verde for fielding an ineligible player in World Cup qualifying. FIFA revealed in a statement that Cape Verde had been found to have fielded defender Fernando Varela in last... Full story
Messi wants to play rest of qualifiers Lionel Messi, who scored two penalties to help Argentina beat Paraguay and become the first team from the CONMEBOL qualifying zone to secure a 2014 World Cup spot, said he wasnâ€™t aware that Barcelona had any plans to ask him to skip the rest of... Full story
Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc returns to his old stomping ground of Bordeaux on Friday as the reigning Ligue 1 title holders look for a pre-Champions League boost. The French capital club travel to Greece to face Olympiacos in Europe next Tuesday, but the clash with Bordeaux is... Full story
Interpol said Wednesday it has not issued an international arrest warrant for the billionaire owner of Russian football club Anzhi Makhachkala, Suleiman Kerimov, who is wanted by Belarus as part of a criminal probe into the potash sector which has already strained ties between Moscow and Minsk. Full story